LUCENA CITY — The key to ending communist insurgency in Quezon province, once a New People’s Army stronghold, was clear: bring the government closer to the people.
Quezon Governor Angelina “Helen” Tan said the provincial government prioritized giving access to basic services such as health, education, and business services to gain the trust and confidence of its constituents, particularly in vulnerable areas.
“Marami po sa ating mga mamamayan walang access to health services, to educational services, sa pangkabuhayan. ‘Dyan po tayo nag-focus, tinanggal po natin ang aspeto ng pulitika. Pagdating sa accessibility ng ating mga kababayan, hindi natin tinitingnan ang kulay,” Tan said in a press briefing of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday.
“One thing that makes us different ay yung gobyernong nakikinig, gobyernong nakikita, mulat ang mata, sensitibo, nararamdaman natin ang pangangailangan nila,” the Governor added.
Citing the role of people’s active participation, Tan thanked the support of various stakeholders including local government units and national government agencies in its fight against insurgency.
Once a hotbed and the strongest bailiwick of the NPA in Southern Luzon, Quezon province was declared free from the influence of communist terrorist groups in a ceremony held during the 125th Independence Day celebration on June 12.
Tan said the next challenge for local officials would be “how to be true to its commitment of sustaining inclusive peace and security through poverty alleviation programs.”
“While we celebrate that declaration being insurgency-free, ang challenge po for us is how to be true to our commitment to the people na nandito ang bawat isa. This is a work in progress at patuloy na iparamdam natin sa kanila na nandito ang gobyerno,” Tan stressed.
Whole-of-nation and whole-of-government
For Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) Commander MGen. Roberto Capulong, the whole-of-nation approach has been the key strategy that led to the declaration of stable internal peace and security in the province.
He emphasized that the stringent efforts of local government units and member agencies of the Regional Task Force ELCAC played a significant role in defeating communist rebels in the province.
“Ang ating mga naging tulay kung bakit naging successful ang ating kampanya sa Quezon province ay bunga ng mahabang taon ng pakikibaka. Maraming campaign plans, at concepts ang ginawa magmula nang tayo ay nag-umpisa,” Capulong said.
“Ang pinaka-importante at pina-key sa effort natin ay ‘yung NTF-ELCAC. Kaya naging mas malakas ang loob ng ating kasundaluhan para makapasok dyan sa loob at kausapin ang dapat kausapin, at ibigay ang dapat na serbisyo,” the 2ID Commander emphasized.
Capulong said that apart from the focused military operations, the various programs initiated by regional and local task forces, including community visits and Ugnayan sa Barangay, led to a series of mass withdrawals of support and surrender of members of the communist terrorist groups across the province.
Since September last year, at least 3,000 members of the New People’s Army operating in the Third and Fourth Districts of Quezon have surrendered to the government.
Capulong also thanked Tan for supporting the military’s peace and security measures in Quezon province.
He also affirmed the military’s commitment to ensuring sustained stable internal peace and security in the province.